Sunday, March 11, 2018

House-Sized Asteroid to Fly By Earth on March 18


A newly-discovered house-sized asteroid, designated 2018 ET1, will fly by Earth on Sunday, March 18 at around 6:30 UTC. The space rock will miss our planet with a relative velocity of 6 km/s at a safe distance of about 4.4 lunar distances (LD), or 1.7 million kilometers.

2018 ET1 is an Apollo-type near-Earth object (NEO) first observed on March 7 by the Mount Lemmon Survey (MLS), which utilizes a 1.52 m cassegrain reflector telescope at Mount Lemmon Observatory in Arizona. MLS is one of the most prolific surveys when it comes to discovering new NEOs. So far, it has detected more than 50,000 minor planets.

Astronomers reveal that 2018 ET1 has an estimated diameter between 9 and 31 meters. The object has an absolute magnitude of 26.4 and orbits the Sun every 532 days at a distance of approximately 1.28 AU.

2018 ET1 is also expected to fly by Mars on September 2, 2018 at a distance of about 18.8 LD, what corresponds to 7.2 million kilometers. Next close approach of this asteroid to our planet will take place on August 30, 2021, when it will pass at a distance of 44 LD (16.9 million kilometers).

On March 11, there were 1,882 Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs) detected, however none of them is on a collision course with our planet. PHAs are asteroids larger than 100 meters that can come closer to Earth than 19.5 LD.

To date, astronomers have discovered almost 18,000 NEOs. Since the beginning of this year, 343 such objects were detected.

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